WinDVD
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WinDVD

One of the more popular software DVD players is InterVideo's WinDVD. The basic version came with my new portable workstation, a fancy name for an oversized laptop, and I had a chance to look into it. After using several OEM provided DVD software players this is the best of the bunch so far. Usually, the player provided with a new computer offers only the most basic functions for viewing a DVD. The included version of WinDVD was good enough to wet my interest and compel me to investigate the full version fo the program. (download a copy)

As with any program of this type I tend to divide the features into two categories, useful and fluff. WinDVD has a good share to both types. Let's take a look at the more realistic features first.

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CPU Requirements: In the real world many people tend to use their laptops to play DVDs. IF you are sitting at home you are more likely to use your home theater than your desktop so support of the CPUs utilized in portable computers is very important. WinDVD is optimized for the Centrino Mobile CPU. It helps to extend the effective life of your battery so your laptop will not such down during a movie. This is obtained by a method of memory caching that reduces the actual hits to your machine. if you are using a desktop or one of the newer portable workstations you will find the support for the new Intel Hyper Threading technology great. This allows you to watch a DVD in one window while working in another without significant decrease in performance of either task.

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Audio Booster: An increasing number of computers now have advanced sound cards installed. These cards permit you to output the audio signals to your home theater receiver or more elaborate computer based surround speakers. WinDVD supports Dolby 5.1, DTS, Dolby Prologic II, SRS TruSurround (which down mixes six channels to two speakers), SRS Headset support and, of course, stereo. There are optimizations for increased bass and dialogue support for a rich, clean sound. Each speaker has a separate volume control. There is a full equalizer, speaker delay controls and even the ancillary modes for customizing the sound.

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Progressive De-interlacing: A state-of-the-art algorithm creates a smooth clear display of interlaced video content.

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Gamma Correction: Adjust the overall brightness and color saturation of your movies for perfect viewing.

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96 kHz/24 bit Audio Decode: This permits a professional quality audio on almost any system.

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QualiView: WinDVD 5 creates a smooth, clear display of interlaced video content just like a TV, but lets it play on progressive devices like PC monitors, LCD panels or plasma displays. This works with their Viewing optimizer which permits full control of the video aspects of the display.

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Progressive De-interlacing: A state-of-the-art algorithm creates a smooth clear display of interlaced video content.

Now for some of the less vital features.

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Time Stretching: This option allows you to slightly increase or decrease the time of the film you are watching. May be its just me but shouldn't a film that has a running certain running time actually play within that time? The one use I can see for this is with movies that have been altered for television. If you make a DVD from your TiVo you may want to restore the running time with this feature.

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Movie Encyclopedia:  This allows you to look up information as you are watching the film. Personally, I just open a new browser window and go to IMDB.

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Importable / Exportable Bookmarks: This feature allows you to make, save and restore bookmarks to your favorite films.

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Multiple Screen Capture Formats: Permits you to save any image from the DVD to bitmap, jpg or wallpaper formats. It easier than similar functions on other programs. There is a type of clipboard where you can review the captures before you save them.

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Smart Stretch: This provides the ability to customize your viewing image by intelligently compensating for the differences in displays and aspect ratios. This non-linear technology minimizes the distortion by only stretching the edges of the video and maintaining the original content in the center portion of the image.

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DivX Support: DivX movies are high-compression video files renowned for their small file size and excellent quality.

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